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Teens’ summer job prospects improve

Mitchell Hartman Jun 5, 2015
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Teens’ summer job prospects improve

Mitchell Hartman Jun 5, 2015
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Summer job prospects for teenagers are better than they’ve been in years.

At a Dairy Queen on Division Street in Southeast Portland, Oregon, there’s a “Now Hiring” sign up next to the drive-thru window. The burger-and-ice-cream joint is across the street from a big public high school, and manager Chris Mooneyham says some of the students who come to eat after school also have summer job applications in.

Dairy Queen in Portland, Oregon. (Mitchell Hartman/Marketplace)

“We’ll probably hire three or four good people, about 25 to 30 hours a week,” Mooneyham says. “It starts at minimum wage. Once you’re trained, you get up to 50 cents to a dollar an hour raise.” He’s hoping any students he hires will stay around once school starts in the fall. 

The teen unemployment rate soared during the recession and peaked in late 2009 at 27.2 percent. It’s now down to around 17 percent.

But Valerie Wilson at the Economic Policy Institute says there are still plenty of challenges. “There’s much less federal investment in youth employment programs and services,” she says. “So it is almost entirely on the private sector to provide summer employment opportunities.”

Fewer teens than ever are trying to work these days. Many go to summer school or do internships instead. And older people are still taking a lot of part-time and seasonal jobs typically done by teens because they need the work.

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